Saturday, September 28, 2013


In the Old West, it was up to the lawmen to enforce the Rule of Law.  In those days, the Rule of Law sprang from the barrel of a Colt .45, AKA "The Handgun that Won the West. This tough looking crew is distinguished from the Outlaws and Desperadoes only on account of their badges.

Speaking of badges, "Knockin' on Heavens Door" seems appropriate right now.

"Mama, take this badge off of me,
I can't use it any more.
It's gettin' dark, too dark to see
I feel I'm knockin' on heaven's door."

Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can't shoot them anymore.
That long black cloud is comin' down
I feel I'm knockin' on heaven's door.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cowboys & O'Leary Cowgirls!

Another set of gunslingers for Dead Man's Hand.  The cowboys should be easy to identify on the tabletop as most of them sport leather chaps.  I do like the fellow in the red shirt best.  Looks like he's checking to see if he has any bullets left in the chamber.  I can imagine him standing over a bad guy and saying "You're thinking, "Did he fire six shots or only five?" To tell you the truth, I forgot myself in all this excitement. So let me take a look. I'll be damned. I'm out."   BLAM!!!

Months ago, I had the great fortune to win the O'Leary girls in a drawing at O'Leary Miniatures.  Anne is back at it again with another giveaway, bigger and better than ever! She's got loads of prizes and her giveaway is sponsored in part by author Patrick Hatt. You can find Mr. Hatt's Amazon Writers Page HERE.  It's pretty cool that a writer and a painter teamed up like this. Do head over to her blog and put yourself in for the big drawing.

I keep Anne's girls up on my painting desk for inspiration. I'ts a double edged sword though as they can be, um, distracting. When I play Dead Man's Hand, I'll have the hottest outlaws on the table.  Thanks Anne!
"You girls are purdy!"
Showdown at Gucci Gulch...and the men were blown away.
I've got a set of lawmen and civilians to finish this project and then it's on to 2 new factions for Saga.  The bonus for the Irish warband is that they be run in Dux Britanniarum once Two Fat Lardies release the DB supplement this winter.  It's great when a set of figures can pull double duty like this.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dead Man's Hand Desperados

"Washington is not a place to live in. The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting and the morals are deplorable. Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country."

Horace Greeley wrote these famous words in 1865 in a New York Tribune editorial. In it, he encouraged Civil War veterans to take advantage of the Homestead Act and colonize the public lands.  And why not? After the Civil War, some Southern soldiers returned home to discover they'd lost everything. Other veterans found it impossible to return to their old way of life on the farm or in the city. Some veterans went West for a fresh start, some for the solitude, and others dreaming of fame and fortune.  That's the long-winded explanation for the Civil War veterans in the set below.

The Desperado set might be my favorite in the Dead Man's Hand line.  They're a wild and colorful bunch, and that's how I think they've turned out. If you field this set, I wonder if there is a chance that the Union and Confederate fellow go after each other instead of the enemy?  
I can't resist the opportunity to share Linda Ronstadt's live performance of Desperado. There's no go-go dancers, bright lights, foam fingers or distractions of any kind. Just Linda, a piano and nearly silent audience. Brilliant!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Old West Outlaws

For my first Old West painting post, I'd like to establish my Western bona fides.  I lived in Nevada for 4 years and Arizona for 11.  My wife was born in Tombstone and we met at the University of Arizona.  In the desert, I once grabbed a snake by the tail and got bit. I used to catch lizards, mark their bellies with blue dye and then release them back into the wild to see if I could catch them again.   Prospecting with my dad, we once found an old crate of TNT. For brevity, I'll cut myself short and say I still miss the wide open spaces, the mountain skyline and the subtle beauty of the West. Painting Old West figures won't take me back to the place I love, but it's a pleasant reminder!

This commission is for a friend who's going to run them under Great Escape Games Dead Man's Hand.  The figures are loaded with detail and each is a character in their own right.  I thought the challenge here would be to keep a tight and earthy palette. It turns out that painting 36 unique characters is the bigger challenge. There are no economies of scale after you prime the figures!  
For each Old West post, I'd like to tell a western flavored story.  Today's is about Gary Gygax's Boot Hill, my 2nd favorite RPG of my youth after D & D.  Employing two 10 sided dice for character abilities and combat, the game was ahead of its time. It didn't catch on like D & D in part because it was brutally unforgiving. While character attributes leveled up after gunfights, you were still as susceptible to death by a bullet after 20 gunfights as you were in 1. And once you died in Boot Hill, there were no spells or clerics to revive you. You were simply dead and had to start over.

Being young and blessed with loads of time, I spent many hours filling up binders with campaign materials. I rolled up hundreds of characters, drew up maps and  missions.  All the background material paid dividends every time my friends sat down for a game or campaign.  Funny thing, kids who were too cool to play D & D were happy to play Boot Hill!
The summer before we headed off to college, my best friend Pat asked to start a campaign.  From our first game, Pat said he wanted to find Doc Holliday and challenge him to a gunfight.  I had a secret "house rule" that fictional characters couldn't find & kill the legends of history. So I kept Pat on a wild goose chase by making sure Doc was always one town away.  The hunt for Doc became the thing that summer and we had many great adventures along the way.  Over that summer, something amazing happened that I never saw before or since. Pat's character wouldn't die. Against all odds, he lived through every gunfight & diced his way out of every tough spot.  He played so well, so luckily and for so long that his stats topped out and he became nearly invincible.

The week before we left for college, I let Pat find Doc Holliday.  Even though Doc tried to talk him out of it, Pat wouldn't rest until they had a shootout.  Pat was faster and better than Doc. He got off 3 shots that all found their mark before Doc could pull the trigger. Badly wounded, Doc's ability to shoot back AND hit were greatly diminished. I pitched the dice and against long odds, Doc got off a single shot that hit. I pulled out Bio One to find where the hit was, diced it and it was Pat's head. A headshot is never good but it could be the ear, the jaw or a grazing wound.  I diced it again and it came up Pat's forehead. There was no saving throw.  Just like that, Pat was dead and the campaign over. Pat fell into a stunned silence. Seeing how much it shook him, I felt quite badly about having rolled up the bullet that killed him.

This ended our Boot Hill playing days. When I'd suggest a new campaign, Pat would say "What's the point? I'll never top that." He was right. Sometimes, he'd reminisce about his character, look into the distance and say "Remember when...?" 30 years later, I still remember.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Anglo-Danes & warlords, too

In Saga, you can base up your warlord on either a 40mm or 50mm base. I use 50mm in order to have more room to create a diorama of sorts. For my Viking warlord, I broke out bark and fiddled for some time to find just the right pose.  I do how like how the grays and whites all came together here.  

For my Anglo-Dane warlord, I had a good number of figures to pair with him but ultimately, I kept coming back to the plump bannerman.  Balding and stocky, I think they make quite a pair.  When the dinner bell rings, don't stand in their way.  

Last up is the whole Anglo-Dane warband-16 huscarls, 16 cerols and a sullen warlord mustered out in double time.  The A-Ds painted up quickly but then, painting Vikings this spring was a great warmup for painting their later brethren. Now that they're done, I can't wait to get them on the tabletop.
I did get a game of Field of Glory in Saturday.  As the only historicals in a fantasy store, we got a good deal of walk-up traffic and comments on our armies.  Once again, the Romans were impossible to overcome even though v2  has knocked them down from ubermen to better than everyone else in period. Stalin once said quantity has a quality of it's own but then, he didn't have to fight the Romans, did he?

It was a fun, fast-paced game with me working the flanks and aiming for overlaps to neutralize Roman superiority. As my initial charges didn't go well, I came back and charged with every unit on the table in the following turn. That felt very Galatian but it didn't turn the tide. The Roman historian Livy would have written about me "Descendit vibrantur" or "He went down swinging."
Pants!  Who needs them?  

Saturday, September 7, 2013


The Accidental Warband moves toward the finish line with 16 Anglo-Dane Ceorls.  Last up will be 2 warlords. Why 2?  Well, I sold off my plastic Vikings and warlord so once again, I have a hole in my collection to paint over.

You gotta love the large shields and the way LBMS transfers bring them to life. All Gripping Beast figs.

To round out the crew, I dug up 12 Viking Bondi I painted last spring and never posted. Adding them to my new figs gives me a total of 28 warriors for a Viking or Anglo-Dane warband.  When I run a Viking warband in Saga, I'll use the large shielded warriors like below. That is a pretty decent Viking shieldwall.
When I run Anglo-Danes, I'll use a mix of shields including kites. Kite shields appeared in the A-D forces once they hired Norman mercenaries. And Canute the Great employed Jomsvikings with his multinational Scandinavian expedition in 1014.  That means you could slip Joms or Norman foot into this warband. The portability of figs for Anglo-Danes is a nice bonus!
Today, my Galatian army will see the tabletop for the first time against the dreaded Romans in Field of Glory. I'm thinking of yelling "SHIELDWALL!" during the Roman impact phase to distract my opponent and the dice gods.  I'm hoping a few good rolls might sneak through as a result. If I want to have any chance of winning today, I better come up with a more robust plan.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Accidental Warband

I gave the Ango-Danes a try in Saga and fell in love with their battleboard the first time out. I played them slow, loading my opponent up with fatigue. My opponent loaded his board and went all in for a knockout punch. I not only survived, I also swept his fatigued units right off table. Predictably, I was hooked!

So whats the accidental part? I just put the Ango-Danes together last week and they were supposed to sit and wait their turn.  Then, my wife and I streamed the fabulous Vikings series on The History Channel.  I could fill a post with the reasons I loved the series.  The short version is it fired my imagination and I couldn't let these figures sit with such good inspiration.  So I'm rushing the warband to the finish line.

8 Huscarls: Tough looking hombres with a nice mix of shields. I've started using Tajimal Miniautres tufts as a changeup from the silflor tufts I usually use.  Excellent product and if you buy 4 or more packs, shipping is free!

8 Huscarls with Dane axes:  These fellows get a +1 to hit due to the 2 handed axe and suffer a 1- to their armor value due to no shield.  They'll be the heavy hitters in my A-D warband.

Prime black, drybrush silver, block in, wash, add highlights and you're to the finish line. You'll notice that I traded my paint pots for glass. I like how I can put a drop of water down and work my paint into it for just the right consistency. Colors mix easily in this setup as well so I think it's a keeper.

So, whats today's takeaway?  That I'm easily distracted?  No. That I don't have a life away from the painting table?  Close, but still no.  The takeaway is you must watch the Vikings series. Check out the Season 2 trailer HERE with a Viking on Viking scrum. If you're not already knee-deep in the Dark Ages, you will be after this series. And maybe, just maybe, Saga will call out to you as well.  Don't say I didn't warn you!
Shieldwalls, axes, intrigue and something for the ladies...